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Sunday, April 5, 2015

20 years of BAM Design Celebrated over 100 Days

by Clara Cornelius

The BAM look is identifiable anywhere. As the Creative Director at BAM, I find myself talking to a lot of people about our identity. A friend recently described it as "all cut off and hard to read, but, like, in good way.” Similarly, most people who I talk to about BAM's design say they recognize it when they see it, that it's "all chopped up" and they "like how it's hard to read."

Our visual identity was created in 1995 by Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram. He was tasked with creating a cohesive graphic identity for the Next Wave Festival, which went on to define the design for BAM as a whole. The core of the concept, from Bierut himself:
Fragments of News Gothic type obscured behind wide stripes became the basis of the Next Wave look, used on all festival posters, advertisements, invitations, and brochures. Practically, this design system allows for the use of very large type, even in cramped applications such as newspaper advertisements. More poetically, the use of type stepping from behind horizontal lines suggests the next big thing coming over the horizon. 
I've seen the design evolve and grow beyond the benchmarks of Michael's original concept--we've pushed and pulled at it, testing its limits to keep it relevant to new generations. Sometimes it is hard to read, but that is often the point.

So here we are 20 years later, and the beautiful, flexible system that Michael Bierut conceived in 1995 is still going strong. To celebrate our design anniversary, we will be participating in another Bierut-derived concept, The 100 Day Project, by showcasing 100 different ways his identity has been applied.

The project was inspired by a workshop Bierut taught at Yale, and has since evolved into a popular social media “event,” thanks to Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. This is the second year of The 100 Day Project, and starting Monday, April 6, we (and the rest of the internet) will post a photo a day highlighting our project. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @BAM_Brooklyn and the hashtag #100daysofBAMtype.

Clara Cornelius is the Creative Director of BAM.

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